Leaked ISIL documents reveal ease that Canadians were able to join terror group

Farah Shirdon left Canada on March 14, 2014. Just five days later, the Calgary extremist crossed into Syria at Tal Abiyad, where he signed up to be a jihadist fighter, according to leaked internal ISIL documents on hundreds of its members.

The forms recording the entry of six Canadians into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in late 2013 and early 2014 were provided to the National Post by the Syrian news site Zaman Al Wasl, which obtained them from an ISIL defector.

The most striking thing they reveal is the ease with which the Canadians were able to travel across the world and join ISIL, despite being relatively uneducated young men inexperienced at terrorism. Some of them had never even travelled before.

HandoutHandoutFarah Shirdon before he left Canada.

And yet less than a month after his arrival in Syria, Shirdon was already the star of an ISIL video in which he burned his Canadian passport and told Canada and the U.S., “We are coming and we will destroy you, with permission from Allah the almighty.”

In the two years since, many more radicalized Canadians have made the same journey. Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Michel Coulombe testified Monday that 100 Canadians were in the region taking part in terrorism.

“I think getting in and joining is just as easy as it always was,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, who has been studying Canadian foreign fighters. “You enter ISIL territory, you are put through Shariah courses and military training, and so on.

“What has changed is how difficult it is to get out of your country of origin, particularly Western countries. The Turkish border region is also much more difficult to cross these days than it was even a year ago. So while joining ISIL is still easy, getting to ISIL territory is more difficult.”

Shirdon’s entry into ISIL was facilitated by a sponsor named in the documents as Wilayat Al-Badiyah, a.k.a. Abu Abdullah Al-Britani. When he enlisted, Shirdon gave his home phone number in Calgary and his mother’s number as contact information.

He wrote he had previously travelled to the United States and Saudi Arabia, and listed his occupation as student, noting he had studied businesses at university for two years. His knowledge of Islamic law was rated as: “average.”

Sky News/AFPSky News/AFPReputed ISIL personnel records said to have been stolen from the head of ISIL’s internal security police.

The 22-year-old, whose family came to Canada to escape the conflict in Somalia, is now wanted by the RCMP, which charged him last September with terrorism six offences.

Police said he “served in a combat role” and was also involved in recruiting, fundraising and inciting violence.

The reports on the six Canadians were found among 1,736 documents Zaman Al Wasl obtained “some time ago,” said deputy editor Ethar Abdulhaq. The site delayed publishing them while staff verified their authenticity.

German authorities have said they believe the documents are genuine. After viewing those obtained by the Post, Prof. Amarasingam concurred, saying the details in the entries, such as their mothers’ names and phone numbers, could not have been faked.

Identifying recruits from more than 40 countries, the papers appear to be questionnaires that record each fighter’s name, nationality, whether they wanted to become suicide bombers, the date they entered ISIL territory and who recommended them.

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Four of the Canadians are relatives from Edmonton who crossed into Syria at Azaz on Nov. 12, 2013 with the help of a smuggler named Mohammed Hussein, according to the documents. The forms list them as Canadians of Somali origin.

Brothers Hamza and Hersi Kariye as well as Mahad Ahmad Hersi and Omar Abdulrahman Mohammed were all rated as having a “weak” understanding of Islamic law. They are believed to have died in airstrikes in November.

Also appearing in the leaked documents is Hussein Baraat, a.k.a. Abu Osman Al-Libani, described as a married, 30-year-old Lebanese-Canadian pipe fitter. He provided Calgary phone numbers as his contact information.

Like the others, he had no previous jihadi experience and his knowledge base was weak, but he wanted to be a fighter. He said he was recommended by Abu Omar Al-Libani and Abu Katada Al-Libani. His current whereabouts is unknown.

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